Lean Manufacturing and Distribution

Since the 1930s, lean manufacturing models have been an industry standard for efficiency models in both manufacturing and distribution. It works by maximizing productivity through efficient processes while also minimizing waste.


What are the types of waste?

Transportation- Excessive transportation of inventory is an extensive time- waster. Lean systems combat this form of waste by creating an organized supply area with minimal unnecessary travel.

Over/ Extra -Processing- Taking extra steps in production or communication that do not add value to the product. This can include excessive approvals, constant unnecessary refinement, and large portions of information that don’t add value.

Over Production- Producing more than is necessary faster than it is needed. Over-production often creates large amounts of overproduction waste. This can be caused by automation being added in the wrong places, improper communication, and inadequate planning.

Defects- Product waste created by scraps, repair, and rework requires the product to be remade. Defects can be caused by overproduction, improper training, and damages due to transport.

Inventory- An extra material inventory over the requirements needed to complete products or tasks.

Motion/ Movement- Any action that does not benefit the end product. Examples include rearranging equipment or inefficient procedures. This is often caused by ineffective storage layouts and inefficient plant layouts.

Talent- Underutilized talent and barring employees from processes can lead to hiccups in operation going undiscovered. It is also essential that employees are placed in the role that adds the most value to the operation and able to grow and share developed knowledge.

What are some of the benefits of Lean manufacturing and distribution?

Increased profits- By decreasing the amount of waste and improving efficiency, lean processes help to increase profits.

Quality improvements – The improvements in processes can help take the pressure off of employees and resources and allow them to be reallocated into innovation and quality control.

Sustainability- By limiting waste and having solid processes, your business is in a better place to adjust and thrive with future changes.

Increased Business- Creating a superior product at maximum efficiency is a great way to increase your business.

Improved Employee Satisfaction- Decreasing unnecessary tasks and limiting employee routines to necessary functions can create a better work environment, reduce employee fatigue, and increase overall satisfaction.

Lead Time Reduction- with a lean processing ideology streamlining processes, businesses are better able to adjust to market variables producing a better lead time.

Improved Delivery Performance- In the realm of distribution, lean has been shown to improve delivery performance by creating a repeatable, efficient process to get packages out the door.

What are some techniques used in Lean?

Kanban- Visual signals to improve that work with a pull manufacturing system used to eliminate overproduction and improve inventory management.

Workflow Analysis- Assessing the physical layout of a process and laying out a system that reduces distances between tasks, creates an organized communication system, and ensures maximum efficiency throughout the process.

Kaizen – Continuous improvement

JIT (Just-in-time) – Making materials available when they are needed, where they are required, and in the quantity that is necessary for that task.

MRP ( Material requirements planning) – Keeping track of data and needs with production planning and scheduling software.

How do you implement Lean processes in your facility?

Invest in solutions built for Lean- Partner with a storage company that understands lean ideology and has specific solutions created to implement this ideology in your processes. Having expert eyes helping to outline methods with you can make the switch to Lean much easier.

Get the team involved- The best way to pinpoint issues in your processes is by listening to the team physically enacting them every day. Your staff is the best resource to identify areas of waste and look for solutions moving forward.

Be patient- A Lean system doesn’t happen overnight. There is a need for continuous improvement to reach your goals. 

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